Preventing Cheating

Below is a list of specific tips and techniques that some faculty members are using to help prevent cheating during quizzes and exams, and to catch students who do cheat. Use only the ones that are relevant to your testing environment and test, and that you personally are comfortable with.

Preparing the Exam

  • Put an honor statement on the front page of the test that students must sign stating that they will do their work honestly and independently.
  • Whenever possible, use test formats that discourage copying, such as essay exams and thought problems.
  • Have several versions of the exam; vary the question order and/or the order of the multiple choice options.
  • Print different versions in different colors and tell students they cannot have the same color as the people sitting on either side of them.
  • Change small but important details in the different versions so that problems appear to be the same at a glance but copying can be detected through a cheater’s use of specific information from another version.

Before the Test Begins

  • As students file into the classroom, hand each an exam and point to where you would like them to sit. This helps to split up friends, who often come in together and are more likely to cheat off each other.
  • Instruct students that they are not permitted to sit next to friends or study partners.
  • Require students to spread out and sit every-other-seat, if possible.
  • Before the exam begins, remind students of their responsibilities under the Code of Academic Conduct. Instruct them to keep their eyes on their own exams and to cover their work. Let them know that suspected cheating will be referred to OSSJA.
  • Remind students that all talking is prohibited during the exam, except when asking a question of the instructor or TA. Inform students that this applies even after they have turned in their test, until they have left the room.
  • Give oral and written instructions about what materials can/cannot be used (study sheets, calculators, etc.).
  • Tell students they cannot share materials, such as erasers or calculators. Test answers are often passed back and forth this way.
  • Prohibit the use of electronic devices during exams, including cell phones. Tell students to turn off and put away all electronic devices. Alert them that a ringing, beeping or loudly vibrating phone will result in an automatic deduction of points from the exam due to the disruption it causes to other students.
  • Instruct students to put cell phones, electronics, notes, textbooks, etc. in closed bags or backpacks, and to push them completely under their seats so they are not visible to anyone. 
  • Tell students to leave student ID’s on their desk so you can randomly check them to make sure that no ringers are taking exams for students enrolled in the class.
  • Tell students they must request permission before they leave the exam room for any reason – including using the bathroom. (When they ask for permission, make sure they do not take their cell phones or exams with them.)
  • For multiple choice exams, tell students not to write the letter of the answer in large text next to the question (on the exam booklet), and that you will deduct a certain number of points if they do this.
  • If it’s a written exam and the students have brought their own Blue Books, have the students pass the Blue Books “five to the right” or "two to the left" (etc.) to ensure that students don’t bring Blue Books with exam material written in them into the exam.

At the End of the Test

  • When you call time, direct students to stay seated, put down their pencils/pens and hand their exams to the person on the aisle.
  • Remind students that no talking is permitted yet. This is a time when a lot of quick answer-changing takes place.  
  • Tell students that points will be deducted for tests not turned in right away.
  • If possible, require students to turn their exams in to their small group discussion or lab TA (who may know the names/faces of students in their section).
  • If the above is not possible, require students to show their ID (and match with the name on the test) when submitting exam.

After the Exam

  • Require students to show their work and do not give credit for unsupported or unexplained answers. If this is the stated policy on your syllabus, it will prevent some cheating.
  • Have the same person grade all students’ answers to a particular question.
  •  If cheating was observed, have witnesses write up statements of what they saw while it’s fresh in their minds.
  • Review suspect exams for evidence of cheating (such as: incorrectly supported or unsupported correct answers, a pattern of identical wrong answers with person they were sitting next to; correct answers to the other version of the exam, etc.)
  • If you collected unauthorized materials, retain and review the notes/books/devices to see if they contain information relevant to the subject of the exam. Talk to OSSJA about what materials should be returned to the student before the student meets with OSSJA.
  • Photocopy [or scan] test papers before returning them. Clearly mark blank spaces and wrong answers in bright ink. This discourages students from making changes to graded exams and submitting them for re-grading.
  • Submit a report to OSSJA using the report form available on-line, or call us if you're unsure whether to refer the student.
  • For students who didn’t show up for the test, require written excuses for make-ups and check excuses for authenticity.

Edited 2/3/2019 by slh